US-based Unifi has secured a letter of no objection (LNO) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to produce food-grade packaging solutions from its Repreve brand of post-consumer recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic flakes.
With the approval, Unifi will use the recycled plastic flakes to produce various food-grade packaging, such as clamshells, trays and baskets for fresh fruits, vegetables and shell eggs.
In September 2016, the company opened its new Repreve bottle processing centre in North Carolina, US, to produce the recycled plastic flakes.
Built with an investment of more than $28m, the centre also sorts and cleans recycled bottles.
The centre can produce 75 million pounds of clean bottle flakes a year, and helps conserve natural resources by reducing the use of crude oil to produce virgin plastic for non-recycled packaging.
Unifi Repreve polymer sales vice-president Eddie Ingle said: “We are pleased to expand our end uses for Repreve bottle flake to include food-grade products.
“The Repreve Bottle Processing Centre uses custom-designed, cutting-edge technology to produce recycled bottle flake for high-quality, safe, environmentally responsible food packaging.”
In order to operate the centre, the company buys baled PET bottles from material recovery facilities across the eastern US.
After bringing PET bottles to the centre, Unifi removes labels, debris and caps from the bottles and chops them into flakes.
The flakes are then washed, dried and bagged for use in the production of Unifi's recycled Repreve fibre or chip.
So far, Unifi has recycled more than five billion plastic water bottles into Repreve fibre at its new bottle processing centre.